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This section of SustainabiliTank.info – REAL WORLD’S NEWS – will be carrying short notes with information not based on the daily press of the United States.

We will not attempt here to write lengthy articles, neither will we editorialize on why the information did not see light in the US.

If readers find other material relevant to sustainable development that was not published, please forward it to us at: Submissions@SustainabiliTank.info


 
Real World’s News:

 

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 17th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


UNITED NATIONS, UNICEF AND SMURFS TEAM UP TO CELEBRATE INTERNATIONAL DAY OF HAPPINESS.

Small Smurfs Big Goals campaign inspires support for Sustainable Development Goals.

The UNF, New York, March 18 – Voice actors from the upcoming animated movie Smurfs: The Lost Village today joined officials from the United Nations, UNICEF and United Nations Foundation at the world body’s headquarters in New York to celebrate International Day of Happiness with a campaign promoting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The “Small Smurfs Big Goals” campaign is designed to encourage young people everywhere to learn about and support the 17 Sustainable Development Goals adopted by world leaders in 2015 to help make the world more peaceful, equitable and healthy.
As part of the celebrations, Team Smurfs recognized three young advocates — Karan Jerath (20), Sarina Divan (17), and Noor Samee (17) — for their actions to promote the Goals.

Jerath, a UN Young Leader for the Sustainable Development Goals, invented a containment device that could prevent offshore oil spills and ensure the protection of marine life. Divan expanded a UN Foundation girl empowerment initiative at her high school and beyond, and Samee is a UNICEF blogger and advocate on social justice issues and raising awareness of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The movie’s U.S. stars — Demi Lovato, Joe Manganiello and Mandy Patinkin — presented the three young students with a symbolic key to the Smurfs Village in recognition of their work.

“This inspirational campaign highlights the fact that each and every one of us, no matter how young or old, small or big, can make our world a better and happier place,” said Cristina Gallach, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information. “We are grateful to creative partners like Sony Pictures Animation and Team Smurfs for their spirit of collaboration in helping the UN reach diverse audiences.”

The Small Smurfs Big Goals campaign culminates on the International Day of Happiness on 20 March, which emphasizes the importance of personal happiness and well-being. The idea is closely linked to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which include decent work for all, access to nutritious food, quality education and health services, and freedom from discrimination.

“Today we have seen how the Small Smurfs Big Goals campaign is giving children and young people a platform to speak out about issues they are passionate about. As we celebrate International Day of Happiness, we hope many more young people are empowered to take action on the Sustainable Development Goals and help achieve a world free from poverty, inequality and injustice,” said Caryl M. Stern, UNICEF US Fund President and CEO.

The actors and UN officials addressed some 1,500 students attending an international Model UN conference in the iconic General Assembly Hall of the United Nations, where they encouraged all participants and the public to join “Team Smurfs”.

The campaign invites the general public to visit SmallSmurfsBigGoals.com to find out how to contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, and share information, ideas and images on social media.

The actors also premiered a new public service announcement video starring cast members of the film that inspires viewers to join the campaign and champion the Sustainable Development Goals.

“We hope the campaign will help us all think about how our actions impact the planet,” said Demi Lovato, who voices Smurfette in the movie. “Every one of us, even a Small Smurf, can accomplish Big Goals!”

The United Nations Postal Administration closed out the blue carpet event by unveiling a special edition stamp sheet featuring the Small Smurfs Big Goals campaign. The film cast along with the Belgian Ambassador to the United Nations, Marc Pecsteen de Buytswerve, and United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Management, Stephen Cutts, presented the Small Smurfs Big Goals UN stamps to the press.

Along with the event at the United Nations, other celebrations took place in 18 countries around the world including Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Russia and the UK, to name a few, to help raise awareness for the “Small Smurfs Big Goals” campaign and the Goals.

“Since 1958, the Smurfs have embodied around the world the universal values of camaraderie, helping one another, tolerance, optimism, and respecting Mother Nature,” said Véronique Culliford, the daughter of Peyo, who created the Smurfs. “It’s been an honor and privilege for The Smurfs to support the United Nations and to continue our longstanding relationship with UNICEF with this campaign focused on raising awareness for the Sustainable Development Goals.”

On March 20, festivities for the International Day of Happiness will culminate in a special ceremony with the film cast along with United Nations, UNICEF and United Nations Foundation officials where they will help turn the Empire State Building blue to commemorate the occasion.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 11th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Exxon eyes Israel after Cyprus win

 www.globes.co.il/en/article-exxon…

9 Mar, 2017 14:09
Nati Yefet

After winning a Cypriot government tender, Exxon Mobile has expressed interest in bidding for Israeli natural gas tenders.

Israeli Minister of National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Resources Yuval Steinitz met last week with senior executives from Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell during his visit to the US. The minister’s associates say that while Royal Dutch Shell will probably not take part in the new tender for oil and gas exploration licenses in Israeli waters, the Exxon Mobil executives came equipped with a great deal of relevant information, and expressed interest in the tender.

The reason is allegedly the announcement two days ago that Exxon had won a tender for oil and gas exploration in Block 10 in Cyprus as part of a consortium with Qatar Petroleum. A group composed of Italian company ENI and Total, and ENI by itself, won the concession for two other blocks in the tender.

In a fourth block already held by Total, the company asked the Cypriot government for permission to add ENI as a 50% partner in the license, because the block is located only six kilometers away from the Egyptian Zohr gas reservoir discovered by ENI. Total expects ENI’s extensive knowledge of the geology in the area to be of use in finding gas in Cyprus.

Steinitz’s associates say that since Exxon is starting to prepare for activity in a nearby area, the company believes that it is likely to prove worthwhile to develop parallel activity in Israel, and to use the same transportation infrastructure to export gas discovered in both countries to Europe.

Steinetz went to Europe early this week, and flew from there to New York and Houston for a week of meetings with energy concerns. In Rome, he met with his Italian counterpart, and held meetings in New York with the Barclays, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, and JP Morgan investments banks, as well as with a group of private investors organized by the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC). In Houston, he took part in the CERAweek energy conference, and held meetings with energy companies.

Steinitz told “Globes,” I was surprised to see energy ministers and representatives of energy companies from all over the world congratulate us on the beginning of development in Leviathan, after years of delay. Almost everyone had assumed that Leviathan was a lost cause… especially given the global crisis in investments in oil and gas fields and the fact that some of the deep water projects of the Leviathan type have been canceled or postponed in various places around the world.


“In meetings with some of the world’s largest investment banks, they noted the change in Israel’s image in the energy market, from a place to be avoided into a responsible country attractive for energy investments in general, and private gas in particular. The plans we displayed for building an undersea pipeline to Turkey, and from Israel and Cyprus to Greece and Italy, aroused a surprising degree of interest.”

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Published by Globes [online], Israel Business News – www.globes-online.com – on March 9, 2017
and appears in many Israeli publications, i.e. The Jerusalem Post, March 10, 2017

SustainabiliTank, sorry for the Trump Administration’s definitive efforts to undo the Obama Administration’s great successes in decreasing the place of oil in the global energy markets,
sees now a decreasing importance of the EPA, Energy Policy, Environment Policy and Global Climate Change avoidance. But also a planed subservience of The State Department to the US oil Interests – the revival of the American Petroleum Institute (API) in the Governing of the USA.
Geting the present Israel Government interested in the cooperation in developing sea resources could perhaps take off some of the pressure in the political arena, though clearly inctreasing
pressure against the potential of an Iranian sea base on Syrian soil. All of this within Israel and US State Department attention.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 8th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Ben Gurion died at 87 on December 1, 1973. Upon his final retirement he said that he will write his biography as a history of his time but he never finished that task. His wife Paula died four years before him and he said he felt like a half man.

Recently, in two separate places, were found the video and the audio tape of an interview by a British media person after his wife’s death. When the video and the audio were put together it became clear that excellent material was there for a documentary film on that amazing small but great man.

Ben Gurion was born October 16, 1886, as David Gruen in Plonsk – a basically small town in then Congress Poland that was part of the Tsarist Empire. The people there were dreaming about the Israel of old – in what was called Palestine. When Herzl came to town he was greeted as if the Messiah arrived.

David reached Palestine first time in 1915 and started out as an agricultural laborer. Jewish farmers came to check the muscles of the offerings.His personal development took time but eventually we see him sitting down with Adenauer, when against the will of many of his followers he accepted reparations for the Holocaust. Ben Gurion realized the young new State needs help and Germany provided training for 5,000 Israeli military personnel and scientists to start the nuclear sector.

Ben Gurion brought together philosopher-giants Hugo Bergman, Martin Buber and others, as the State he envisioned was not to be based on the military but on Judaism, humanism, and democracy. He said that the greatest Jew we had was Moshe (Moses)

Ben Gurion does not define himself as a Zionist and definitely not as a Socialist – he accepts plain Judaism as it appears in the Bible and promoted by the prophets.
It is just simple humanism that comes about from deep thinking or meditation.

He has studied Buddhism but finds greatness not in the thinking but in the doing -and realizing what one finds best in himself. The interviewer wanted to know about the “I” and if one has to rid himself of that “I?” Ben Gurion says to him that the “I” is not the question but the quality of the “I.” Is it an “I” of selfishness, or an “I” of humanity. Buddha was preaching 500 years before Christ and the Bible is not just about Jews.

The people that came to Palestine were looking for peace but to achieve this had to have the capability for wa,r and it was Hashomer active since 1870 that showed the way.

For Israel, with people from many different countries, the army was the best place to bring people together.

Asked if there are things he has done that he is sorry about. He said that you can never know you are not making mistakes – I did things I thought had to be done – so I was at peace with myself.

Asked that most countries that were created after WWII failed as democracies, can Israel continue to be democratic? He said that if the question is peace or territory – he is for peace. And here, though he has no doubt that old Israel gives his country the right for all the territory from the Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea – he was ready gladly to give up all those lands gained in the Six Days War in exchange for peace. He said then clearly – WE ARE PLEASED WITH THE 1967 BORDERS IN EXCHANGE FOR PEACE.

We want peace on the basis of the Status Quo pre-1967. And here the tape has a series of meetings Ben Gurion had with Musa Alami whom he knew for 40 years
when they represented the two main factions of the land. Now he received phone calls from Mussa Alami when on a trip in London. This part touched memories with me as well as in Buffalo, New York, at the State University I befriended an Alami from that family from the Old City in Jerusalem, and when I went to Jerusalem, but he could not go, after the end of the 1967 fighting, his parents and sister came to see me in the West Jerusalem to send with me some goodies for their son. No doubt, sane people can find ways to coexist

Asked what would he have done after 1967. Ben Gurion said, had he been asked he would have presented his views.

At 85 Ben Gurion was celebrated by the Knesset and the interviewer asked him if he was pleased with what he has done – to which he said it was not him – it was the Halutzim that had the vision. He knows only one person who has done everything by himself – that was Albert Einstein when he invented the theory of Relativity. Everybody else had to work with a group. I never guided Israel – The State does not exist yet!

Regarding his wife Paula, he said she was no zionist nor Socialist, she just followed him to Palestine. Later she said she was not the Prime-Minister’s wife – only the Wife of David Ben Gurion.

David said when the talk was about his age – I was reborn when I came to Israel from New York in 1919 followed by Paula – a new man – so, he was much younger.

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Musa Alami (May 3, 1897 – June 8, 1984) (Arabic: Müsa al-‘Al?mi) was a prominent Palestinian nationalist and politician. Due to Alami having represented Palestine at various Arab conferences, in the 1940s Alami was viewed by many as the leader of the Palestinian Arabs.

Alami was born in the Musrara district of Jerusalem, into a prominent family. His father was Mayor of Jerusalem Faidi al-Alami, his sister was married to Jamal al-Hussayni and he was the uncle of Serene Husseini Shahid.

He was first taught at the school of the American Colony and at the French Ecole des Freres in Jaffa. During World War I Alami worked at the censorship office in Damascus. Alami retained a positive view of the Ottoman empire; recalling that the Arabs regarded the Turks as partners rather than oppressors, and above all: Palestine was largely ruled by Palestinian officials. Alami claimed that “a greater degree of freedom and self-government existed in Palestine than in many Turkish provinces”.

Later he studied law at Cambridge University and was admitted to the Inner Temple and graduated with honors degree.

Upon his return to Jerusalem, Musa Alami worked for the legal department of the government of the British Mandate of Palestine and eventually became the private secretary of the High Commissioner General Arthur Grenfell Wauchope. In 1934, Alami participated in talks with the leaders of the Jewish community in Palestine David Ben-Gurion and Moshe Sharett. According to Ben-Gurion, he suggested that the Zionists could provide significant help developing the region, but according to Ben-Gurion, Alami replied that he would prefer waiting one hundred years and leaving the land backward, as long as the Palestinians could do the job themselves.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 7th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

From FAREED ZAKARIA’S Daily Briefing for Tuesday March 7, 2017


“Eurodeterrent” is Going Mainstream

Some European officials are mulling something that until recently had seemed unthinkable – a European Union nuclear weapons program, writes Max Fisher in the New York Times.

“Analysts say that the talk, even if it never translates into action, demonstrates the growing sense in Europe that drastic steps may be necessary to protect the postwar order in the era of a Trump presidency, a resurgent Russia and the possibility of an alignment between the two,” Fisher writes. “Even proponents, who remain a minority, acknowledge enormous hurdles. But discussion of a so-called ‘Eurodeterrent’ has entered the mainstream…”

“Mist of Fear” in Turkey
Opposition voices in Turkey should be given the same kind of support that the West offered dissidents speaking up in the Soviet Union, suggests Timothy Garton Ash in The Guardian.

“To travel to Turkey today is to journey into darkness: tens of thousands of state employees and thousands of academics dismissed, more journalists locked up than in any other country, and a chilly mist of fear.”


China Eyeing Up America’s Backyard?

China is poised to step into the void being left by the Trump administration in America’s own backyard, writes Kevin Gallagher in Foreign Policy.

Latin American nations “are understandably wary of negotiating anything with a government that has denigrated them and called their citizens ‘bad hombres’ and worse,” Gallagher writes. “Enter China, which just days after the election released a new white paper calling Latin America and the Caribbean a ‘land of vitality and hope.’ The plan promises to implement earlier pledges of trade and investment, but without the U.S.-strings attached in terms of deregulation and name-calling.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 5th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

As reported by Irith Jawetz from Vienna:


Fareed’s Take: He tackled the 54 billions Trump wants to spend on additional Military. He quoted General Petraeus who told him a few years ago that during the Gulf war he wished he had more Foreign Office people to advise him.


Why? Soldiers do not understand the problems of the Middle East, the difference between the Shiites and Sunis, the history, the culture, and a brave officer who knows how to fight is not enough to win a war.

The Military budget of the US is already huge. It is 9 times the size of the Russian Military budget and 3 times them size of China’s,

Then he interviewed two National Security Advisors. Tom Donillon who was under President Obama and denied the allegation of wiretapping. He also said that Trump has no idea how the system works. The President cannot order wiretapping without a court order. Presidents cannot just order wiretapping..As for Jeff Sessions he was right to recuse himself and should not resign. We have to wait for his new explanation which will come this week.

Stephen Hadley who was National Security Advisor under George W. Bush agreed with Donillon on the wiretapping..Presidents cannot just do it.. If the Obama Administration was really worried about ties to Russia they may have had a reason to do it, but until now there is no proof that it happened. He also said what the panel today said that Trump likes to distract. Whenever something does not go his way and he gets criticized, he tweets something outrageous and diverts from the issue. This now seems to be a general idea floating around.

As for Sessions – he did the right thing and should not resign until he clarifies his position in the coming days. Then we’ll see.

They both agree that: North Korea is the biggest crisis Trump will face now. President Clinton faced the Oklahoma bombing, President Bush 9/11, President Obama the financial crisis and Trump will face North Korea. However if he does not appear to be reliable and trustworthy there will be trouble.

On the idea that Trump’s immigration policy will be good for the economy, Fareed disputes it vehemently. The costs of more agents, building that wall and not having immigrants for menial work will cost more than it will save.

Then he talked about Canada which has now surpassed the USA and a Land of opportunities. In every poll Canada ranks before the US in welfare, economy, freedom, healthcare.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 28th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Yesterday, February 27, 2017 there was a podium discussion at the House of the European Union, Vienna, Wipplingerstrasse 35, 1010 Wien. The topic was the question: “MORE OR LESS EU?”

The main speaker was Professor Karl Aiginger, currently Professor at WU, Vienna and Director
of the Policy Crossover Center, Vienna – Europe, that is a Discussion Platform for European Policy.

Karl Aiginger specializes in industrial organization. He also focuses on the analysis of industrial policy, innovation, the competitiveness of companies, international competition, and the European economic and social model.

He is the founder and publisher of the Journal of Industry, Competition and Trade and was the project leader for the analytical principles underpinning the competition reports of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs. He evaluated the Finnish system for innovation on behalf of the Government of Finland and was in charge of the evaluating the system of Austrian research subsidies and funding on behalf of the Federal Government of Austria. He was on the supervisory board of the holding company of nationalized Austrian companies.

It is a main message of Aiginger’s work not to equate competitiveness with low costs or to measure it using the external balance, but to measure it by outcomes, specifically defining competitiveness as the “ability to deliver Beyond GDP goals”. Industrialized countries must follow a strategy based on quality. To us it seems that Professor Aiginger is a clear opponent of the approach used by people like Trump – the line that says make a profit always without looking back at the trail you leave behind.

Yesterday’s panel moderated by Hans Buerger from the Austrian Radio Station ORF, and included also Paul Schmidt from the Austrian Society for European Politics, Katharina Gnath from the Bertelsmann Foundation and Jacques Delors Institute of Berlin, and a young lady, Erza Aruqaj, representing the “millennials” and working with the National Bank, whose head, his Excellency Ewald Nowotny, was in the room.

We report on this meeting because to us it included a true first.

This First came from Professor Aiginger in his introduction, though later on it never was picked up again in the conversations.

Professor Aiginger nailed it down – the present three real European problems are –
TWO OUTSIDE PROBLEMS AND ONE HOME MADE PROBLEM.

The outside problems are:

(1) Trump. Trump likes Brexit and will help possibly other exits.

(2) Putin. Putin makes efforts at destabilizing the Ukraine, the Balkans, the Baltics,
Greece, France, and others.

The home made problem is:

(3) Right Populism. That is the internal EU mechanism that will lead to further exits.

What above says to us is that Professor Aiginger sees the danger of a Trump-Putin scissors that are bound to shape Europe, like the Roosevelt-Stalin scissors did in 1995 at Yalta.

But Professor Aiginger does not despair. He thinks of ways the EU can reorganize – as in effect it has to because of the Brexit that by now ought to be recognized as an accomplished fact. Further more, besides my notes I took last night, I found in today’s Wiener Zeitung a full page article by him – “Europe Without Populism.” that presents 4 principles of his thinking. Yes, Europe does not have to go down the Trump drain – it even can prosper if it learns by looking at the US and the UK – their evolution as pushed by their populists.

Last night, I felt lucky to have had the chance to congratulate Prof. Aiginger for his three “DANGERS” and added that all the rest – the positive part of his work – ought to include also a severe warning to Europe – States, individuals, regions, scientists, economists, educators, media, etc. that they do not just continue to plan for what they think is right – but seriously start to warn the public that there is a very real danger in falling back to Yalta.

Europe does not want just the post-WWII Peace of Yalta, but it must strive to a higher level of what was post-Malta Peace (the Marsaxlokk meeting on board of the Maxim Gorky).

For some more about Prof. Aiginger – his 4 points in print of today are:

(1) The Cornerstones for National Tax-Systems.

(2) The Principles for an innovative Climate Policy.

(3) The coordination of a European Business Policy.

(4) The Globalization of European Values.

The answer in short-hand is thus to do the right things as a union while recognizing the differences between States or Regions.

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ALSO – as we wrote here about events at the EU Haus, Vienna – let us publish the list of presentations in their EUROPA: DIALOG series with Journalits and writers.

We already had the first two meetings

— Jan. 31 — Corinna Milborn from PULS 4

— Feb. 14 — Wolfgang Boehm Die Presse -covering Europe – reported on Brussels

the future meetings:

— March 7 — Margaretha Kopeining “Kurrier” correspondent in Brussels

— Msrch 14 — Ben Segenreich ORF and Der Standard from Israel

— March 28 — Carola Schneider ORF from Moscow

— April 4 — Michael Laczinski “Die Presse” from Brussels

— April 18 — Joerg Winter ORF from Turkey

— May 2 — Tim Cupal ORF from Brussel

— May 16 — Christophe Kohl ORF from Paris

— Nay 23 — Tessa Szyszkowitz “Profil” from London

— June 6 — Thomas Seifert “Wiener Zeitung” covers Europe

— June 20 — Doron Rabinovici Writer

As we see much of this is about Brussels

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 9th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 2, 2017
Contact: Clinton Foundation Press Office,  press at clintonfoundation.org

President Clinton and Chelsea Clinton to Convene More Than 1,000 Students from Around the World at 10th Annual CGI University Meeting

Now Accepting Applications for CGI University 2017, October 13-15 at Northeastern University in Boston

February 2, 2017 — The 10th annual Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) meeting—hosted by President Bill Clinton and Chelsea Clinton—will take place October 13-15, 2017 at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts. More than 1,000 undergraduate and graduate students will be joined by thought leaders from around the world to address some of the most pressing social, economic, and environmental concerns of their generation.

Since its first meeting, CGI U has brought together more than 8,700 students from more than 940 schools, 145 countries, and all 50 states. These students have developed projects including a predictive model for energy efficiency retrofits in New York City buildings, a mentorship program to promote confidence, deconstruct gender stereotypes and build leadership for young girls, a mobile texting app that prevents the sale of counterfeit prescription drugs in the developing world, and the creation of support centers for victims of gender-based violence in Pakistan.

Students interested in attending CGI U 2017 can submit their applications here by May 1, 2017. Students requesting travel/lodging assistance must apply by the early decision deadline of March 1, 2017. Further details on the meeting and application process are below, and can also be found here.

CGI U is one of many service and leadership development programs run by the Clinton Foundation. Other opportunities include the Presidential Leadership Scholars program, a unique initiative created in partnership with the George W. Bush Presidential Center, the Clinton Presidential Center, the George Bush Presidential Library Foundation, and the Lyndon Baines Johnson Foundation to support some of the most promising leaders in America, and the Clinton Foundation Day of Action, a community service program that has mobilized more than 6,000 volunteers who have collectively donated more than 25,500 volunteer hours to date.


CGI UNIVERSITY: A HUB FOR YOUNG INNOVATORS

The Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U), established in 2007 by President Bill Clinton, brings together college and university students to address global challenges with new, specific, and measurable plans called Commitments to Action. Whether building a digital platform to empower youth in the U.S. foster care system or providing rural Latin American communities with solar energy solutions, CGI U participants are among the world’s most promising young social innovators. Through CGI U’S annual meeting and year-round support, student participants create action plans, build relationships, and participate in hands-on workshops as they carry out their Commitments to Action.

The CGI U meeting takes place at an accredited college or university each year—previous CGI U meetings have been held at Tulane University, the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Miami, the University of California at San Diego, the George Washington University, Washington University in St. Louis, Arizona State University, and the University of California at Berkeley.


HOW TO APPLY FOR CGI U 2017

Applications for CGI U 2017 are now open here. To attend CGI U 2017, students must be at least 18 years of age and currently enrolled in an institution of higher education at the time of application. Students who will be at least 18 years of age and enrolled in an institution of higher education by October 2017 are also eligible to apply.

Applicants are required to submit a detailed plan for their Commitment to Action that addresses a specific problem in one of five focus areas: Education, Environment and Climate Change, Poverty Alleviation, Peace and Human Rights, and Public Health.

The CGI U meeting is free to attend, though students must fund their own travel and lodging. Students requesting travel and/or lodging assistance must submit their application by the early decision deadline: March 1, 2017. All other applications must be submitted by the final deadline: May 1, 2017.

For any questions about the application process, please call 212.710.4492 or email  cgiu.applicant at clintonglobalinitiativ….

HIGHER EDUCATION FACULTY AND ADMINISTRATORS: JOIN THE CGI UNIVERSITY NETWORK

We are proud to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the CGI University Network—a growing consortium of colleges and universities that support, mentor, and provide seed funding to leading student innovators and entrepreneurs.

The following schools will celebrate five consecutive years of membership in the CGI University Network this year. We applaud their dedication to engaging the next generation of leaders.

Arizona State University
Cornell University
Duke University
Johnson C. Smith University
Middlebury College
Northeastern University
Rutgers University
Southern Methodist University
The Ohio State University
Tufts University
University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
University of California, Berkeley
University of California, San Diego
University of Central Florida
University of Houston
University of Miami

More than 60 schools have already joined for 2017, pledging more than $710,000 to support student commitment-makers from their campuses. All funding for the CGI University Network is raised and provided by participating University Network schools and given directly to students from these schools.

For a current list of universities who have joined the University Network for 2017, please write to the foundation..

CGI University is now accepting applications from eligible students over the age of 18. The early decision deadline is March 1, 2017; the final deadline is May 1, 2017. For more information and to submit an application, please visit cgiu.org

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About the Clinton Global Initiative University

The Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U), established in 2007 by President Clinton, brings together college students to discuss and address global challenges with practical, innovative solutions by making Commitments to Action – new, specific, and measurable initiatives that can be small or large, local or global, financial or nonmonetary in nature. Through its annual meeting and ongoing programmatic support, CGI U supports students in their efforts to create action plans, build relationships, participate in hands-on workshops, and follow up as they complete their projects.

CGI U is proof that young people have the power to make a significant impact by confronting some of the world’s most urgent challenges. Since it’s first meeting, CGI U has brought together more than 8,700 students from more than 940 schools, 145 countries, and all 50 states, and nearly $3 million in funding has been awarded to these commitment-makers through CGI U. These students have made more than 6,250 Commitments to Action ranging from establishing a predictive model for energy efficiency retrofits in New York City buildings to a mobile texting app that prevents the sale of counterfeit prescription drugs in the developing world, from designing a lightweight water filtration backpack that provides drinkable water in disaster zones to support centers for victims of gender-based violence in Pakistan.

The CGI U meeting takes place at an accredited college or university each year, and previous CGI U meetings have been held at Tulane University, the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Miami, the University of California at San Diego, the George Washington University, Washington University in St. Louis, Arizona State University, and the University of California at Berkeley.

To learn more, visit cgiu.org and follow us on Twitter @CGIU and Facebook at facebook.com

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 8th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Mitch McConnell gives Elizabeth Warren’s 2020 presidential campaign an in-kind contribution.

BY JAMES HOHMANN The Washington Post
with Breanne Deppisch

MORNING INTELLIGENCE FOR LEADERS

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David AxelrodVerified account
?@davidaxelrod

David Axelrod Retweeted Matt Viser
McConnell did @SenatorSessions no favors tonight by shutting down @SenWarren. Strong-armed tactics looked weak & defensive.David Axelrod added,
Matt Viser @mviser
By a 49-to-43 vote, Senate rules that Elizabeth Warren broke rule impugning a senator. She now cannot speak during debate on Jeff Sessions.
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THE BIG IDEA: Mitch McConnell defended his decision to have the Senate formally vote to block Elizabeth Warren from speaking about the nomination of Jeff Sessions to be attorney general. “She was warned,” he said. “She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.”

The majority leader said the firebrand from Massachusetts broke the chamber’s rules by reading past statements about Sessions from Coretta Scott King and Ted Kennedy. “The senator has impugned the motives and conduct of our colleague from Alabama,” McConnell said, setting up a series of exceptionally rare roll-call votes to silence Warren until Sessions is confirmed.

— In these angry times, the activist base of the Democratic Party wants its politicians to be fighters. When Republicans were in the wilderness, the party’s base valued hostility toward Barack Obama more than ideological purity. That’s how Donald Trump became the GOP’s standard bearer. The same principle will now apply for exiled Democrats. For the purposes of winning the 2020 nomination, it will be impossible to be too anti-Trump.

— McConnell gagging Warren is one of the best gifts she could have received, and her birthday is not even until June. It solidifies her bona fides as a fighter for progressive causes. Just hours before the showdown on the floor, which Warren had not planned for, the former Harvard Law professor announced that she will come out with a book this spring called “This Fight is Our Fight.”

— The brouhaha will be especially resonant because it touches race and gender, two of the most volatile fault lines in American life. During Black History Month, McConnell specifically cited portions of a letter that the widow of Martin Luther King Jr. wrote to the Senate Judiciary Committee in opposition to Sessions’s 1986 nomination to be a federal judge as a justification for the votes to rebuke Warren. “Mr. Sessions has used the awesome power of his office to chill the free exercise of the vote by black citizens,” King wrote three decades ago, referencing prosecutions he oversaw as the U.S. attorney for Alabama.

As Barack Obama’s former top strategist, David Axelrod, puts it as we wrote at the op of our posting.

— Sanctioning Warren also gives her underlying message a much bigger platform: She was speaking to a nearly empty chamber against a nominee who, no matter what, is going to get confirmed later today. Very few people paid attention to similar floor speeches against Betsy DeVos the night before. Now millions of people will read the letter that King wrote.

Rachel Maddow interrupted her MSNBC show for a live telephone interview with Warren. “I’ve been red-carded on Sen. Sessions,” she lamented. The senator then went into another room in the Capitol and read King’s letter aloud on Facebook Live. By morning, it had more than 5.2 million views:

— This really could help Warren make inroads with African Americans: There are relatively few black voters in Massachusetts, but members of the community will determine who wins the South Carolina primary in three years (it’s coming up faster than you think). Bernie Sanders just might have stopped Hillary Clinton if he had figured out a way to break through her firewall with African American voters. So there is no doubt that Warren World celebrated as groups like the NAACP and the Congressional Black Caucus quickly rallied behind her.

— The top trending hashtags on Twitter overnight are all about the donnybrook: #LetLizSpeak and #ShePersisted. An online clothing site for independent designers, RedBubble.com, is even selling “She Persisted” T-shirts and sweatshirts. Thousands of people are posting pictures of strong women throughout history with the caption #ShePersisted

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What we see now is an Administration hand picked by a Maverick whose mind seems set to destroy America. His ideal is a Mighty Mouse that scares everyone but has no power.

THE OLD EAGLE HAS TAKEN OFF AND THE NEED FOR COURAGEOUS FIGHTERS IS OBVIOUS IN ORDER TO RISE DECENT AMERICANS WHO WILL FINALLY SEE THAT “MAKING AMERICA GREAT AGAIN” WAS JUST AN
ANTI-DEMOCRATIC HOAX.

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Following an unusually tense conflict on the Senate floor Tuesday night, the chamber is scheduled to vote Wednesday evening on the fate of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), whose record on civil and voting rights as a federal prosecutor and state attorney general has long been criticized. Sessions is expected to win confirmation narrowly and largely along party lines — and primarily on the strength of his relationships with fellow Republican senators.

But the expected Trump victory comes after a bruising confirmation process for Sessions and other Cabinet nominees that Democrats have used to amplify their concerns about the president’s agenda — even as they have fallen short of derailing any nominees.

But will Senator Chuck Schumer show the mettle needed to stand up to McConnell?
In our opinion no sense here to try for the diplomatic compromise. There is no compromising if the issue is the dismantling of America.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 22nd, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Trump’s coronation by his blind admirers was not the only act of global importance this weekend. We also saw a Turkish Parliament vote that turns Recep Tayyip Erdogan into a Presidential Sultan; he remembers that January 22, 1517 – just a mere 600 years ago – the Turks conquered Cairo.

Prime Ministers Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and Theresa May of the UK compete to be the new US Chief’s first guest. The Tsar of Russia, Vladimir Putin expressed his wishes to co-reign with the new United States, while at the Davos World Economic Forum, the playing ground of world’s capitalists, it was Xi Jinping – the Chinese Communist Party leader – who is viewed as the new world leader of Free Trade and Globalization. Quite a global change!


And Pope Francis warns against rise of populist leaders ‘like Hitler’ as Donald Trump sworn in as President He said among other things – “In times of crisis, we lack judgement.

President Donald Trump’s World-view is best depicted in a Kurier of Austria, January 22, 2017, drawing:

On the left side it shows a bloated US (TRUMP – Great Again!) sitting on a brick wall under which all of Latin America is marked Mexico.

On the right side you see the British Islands marked Brexit under which there is a rather smallish area labelled Pussies – that becomes recognizable thanks to the Italy-boot.
Underneath there is a much larger area labelled with a crossed-out ISIS and from the West side an incoming missile.

To the further right there is a nondescript large blob marked “Maybe Russia, Maybe China.”

If that map does not talk to you, then you had better listened to Fareed Zakaria’s program on his GPS (Global Public Square) and then followed up on NBC’s “Meet the Press” where Chuck Todd was trying to get answers from Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s Senior Adviser on how to beat the press. Obvious to the blind – The President is the LIAR-IN-CHIEF, his Press Secretary – the bamboozler par excellence and Kellyanne – the obnoxious fighter that brought them to where they are today.
From the Washington Post Evening Edition, January 22, 2017: Challenged on falsehoods, Conway says Trump team has ‘alternative facts’ that translates to Alternative meaning evasion and un-truth – simply said intended lies she makes up to avoid an answer.

Bette Midler posted today her findings that Trump’s cabinet is the richest in the history of the nation – worth over 14 billion dollars.
Wonder why you have no money? Because they have it All!

An Israeli facebook writer expressed her question that she does not understand who learned from whom – Netanyahu from Trump or Trump from Netayahu. We have the answer to her dilemma – both learned from Sbeldon Adelson – the Casino mogul from Macao who lives in Miami and who funded the political campaigns of Netanyahu and of the extreme right in the US of which Trump was the ultimate beneficiary. In Israel Adelson bought up the media outlets and created that fake impression of reality. Now, what the wonder that Trump’s Cabinet looks like a Goldman Sachs retreat and the proposed Secretary of State is the greatest Oil Industry executive?

Looking at that “Inauguration speech” that Trump made on Friday in front of a mainly
male audience pockmarked by all those blonde Republican wives, the right-looking well established journalist – George Will – writes:
“Trump vindicated his severest critics by serving up re-heated campaign rhetoric about rusted out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape and an education system
producing students deprived of all knowledge. Yes all.
But cheer up, because the carnage will vanish if we follow two simple rules: Buy American and Hire American. ‘Simple’ is the word.”

Trump missed his chance to make a unifying speech and ended up sawing more division of an already split nation. The event was thus real in its fakeness but next week the country is his to rule. Will he make it better for all – not just for his bunch of oligarchs?

From Kellyanne’s pearls: “*On the Whitehouse press room – “We can’t let the press into the White House press room if they are going to question the facts presented by the team or the President himself.” *On Trump’s tax returns: “The president will NOT release his tax returns. The people don’t want that – they are interested in their own tax returns.”
*On the million who marched in America and more around the world: “I discussed it with him briefly but didn’t see any point to focus on it.”

The most incisive comments on Trump we found in the weekly column of a wise Israeli – Uri Avnery who has seen it all and has clear memories that stretch for 90 years.

He writes that President Trump does not know a thing about history and about many other things as well. Tramp knows real estate and how to make money. But some of the most terrible
wars were started because of ignoramuses. You can think of the First World War, on the millions of dead that started because of an unimportant Serb. Then the Second World War and its tens of millions of dead that was caused by Adolf Hitler, a primitive man, who crossed the border into Poland without giving a thought that he starts a world war. He did not believe that Britain, an Arian Nation he admired, will declare war again him.

Avnery starts his column by saying the only thing that is sure is that we are facing four years of uncertainty. Every morning he expects to get up and first thing he will try to find out what this man will do today. He will be the entertaining-president The World is dangerous and from today it will be dangerous some-more.

Yes, we agree with Avnery and we already named Trump the American Caligula.
Yes, history repeats itself – but please remember – now it is not horses – it is nukes!

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 14th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Who’s the Illegitimate President Now, Mr. Birtherism?

Trump spent five years trying to delegitimize Obama. Now he’s taking office under a cloud of suspicion, and only has himself to blame.

BY BRIAN BEUTLER, The New Republic
Friday, January 13, 2017


It is ironic that Donald Trump owes his success in Republican politics, and thus ultimately his presidency, to birtherism given the extent to which he failed to bring birtherism mainstream.

Trump Is Exactly the Monster We Feared, and Republicans Are Enabling Him

He assumed leadership of the birther movement in March 2011 when he first expressed public doubts about whether President Barack Obama was born in the U.S. The next month, Obama put an end to the farce by producing his Hawaiian birth certificate at a White House press conference, and days later humiliated Trump during the White House Correspondents Dinner. But Trump kept expressing doubts about Obama’s country of origin until late in the 2016 presidential campaign, when he shamelessly attempted to blame the entire crusade on Hillary Clinton. Eventually he had the last laugh.

Birtherism was a huge plot line of his presidency, one generally pushed by elements of the conservative fringe. Though these conspiracy theorists were egged on by Republicans, birtherism never became a mainstream Republican rallying cry because it is racist and fabricated. But the propulsive force behind birtherism, if not the theory itself, was a widely shared right-wing desire to void Obama’s presidency. Racism led elements of the far right to adopt birtherism specifically, but their quest was for any revelation that could prevent Obama from running the country. Only a few criteria govern who can become president; one of them is that the president must be a natural-born citizen; birtherism thus emerges from circular reasoning and wishful thinking. It is a tool that allows political nemeses to trump all politics, which is why white candidates like John McCain and Ted Cruz have also found themselves at the center of less obviously racist birther inquests.

But if it’s ironic that Trump rose to the pinnacle of global power on the strength of a failed campaign to delegitimize Obama, it’s also fitting that his own presidency will begin under a mix of suspicions and legitimacy questions that are very real and that Trump brought upon himself.

Nobody who’s reasonable questions Trump’s eligibility for the presidency, but questions surrounding his entitlement to keep the job are widespread, and not just on the left-wing fringe. Birtherism may have been Trump’s accidental springboard to the presidency, but the next four years are set to express themselves as a continuous fight over the legitimacy of his presidency in ways that will make birtherism seem like a footnote.

The fact that Trump’s weak lock on the presidency isn’t more widely discussed is attributable almost entirely to Republicans in Congress who, for now and for the foreseeable future, have resolved to foreclose inquiries into Trump’s conduct that may yield impeachable offenses.

Democrats can’t force investigations, and they can’t issue subpoenas, so they can’t isolate the source of all the smoke. But it’s everywhere.

Consider the following:

It is very likely that the FBI is investigating links between Trump’s campaign aides and Russian actors who allegedly conducted a sabotage campaign against the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton, and into whether Russian officials have the capacity to blackmail Trump.
His designated CIA director, Mike Pompeo, not only vouchsafed the intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia embarked on its disruption campaign with the goal of helping Trump, but promised the senators considering his nomination “to pursue foreign intelligence with vigor no matter where the facts lead.”

Trump has forced the director of the Office of Government Ethics, Walter Shaub, Jr., to take the unprecedented step of upbraiding the president-elect for freezing out ethics officers, and for making financial decisions that leave him highly conflicted between his business and the public interest. Shaub called Trump’s decision to hand executive control over his business to his sons “wholly inadequate” and urged him to fully divest from the Trump organization.
Ethics experts, and others on the left and right, have observed that Trump is very likely to become in violation of the emoluments clause of the Constitution almost immediately after taking the oath of office. Trump will set off a silent constitutional crisis in hour zero, leaving everyone wondering when it will become impossible to ignore.
All of these issues will dog Trump endlessly, if only because Trump rejects even the slightest affronts to his ego and bottom line. He could liquidate his assets and he could support a full inquiry into the Russian government’s actions and contacts over the course of the election. But he never will.

These decisions, and the pall they cast over his administration-in-waiting, likely explain why he will enter the White House with the lowest favorability rating of any incoming president in modern history, and why he’ll likely have a harder time capitalizing on good political and economic fortunes than presidents normally do. His antic campaign to bully manufacturers into keeping jobs in the U.S. was widely heralded as a public-relations coup, and yet, “voters disapprove 51 – 37 percent of the way Donald Trump is handling his job as president-elect.”

There are glimmers of hope in this state of affairs for Trump foes—dim flashes of accountability in the few institutions (the media, the intelligence community) that haven’t completely submitted to Trumpism, and a source of enduring opposition to Trump’s gross behavior and the GOP’s unpopular policy agenda.

But there are dangers, too. Being unpopular and under a cloud of suspicion makes Trump more prone to lash out. He baselessly dismissed the record size of his popular vote deficit as an artifact of millions of people voting illegally. When he’s in power, that scapegoating tendency could easily turn into a crackdown on voting that will dwarf Obama-era voter suppression. Before becoming their first customer, Trump compared the intelligence community to Nazi Germany. He likewise refers to news outlets who write stories about intelligence findings as “fake news.”

As of this writing, Trump has not responded to the fact that the Justice Department’s Inspector General will be investigating whether the FBI took illegal or unethical steps to help Trump win the presidency at Clinton’s expense. But if he is true to form, he will politicize that inquiry, too. His popularity may never rise above water, but he can still leave plenty of institutional damage in his wake. And, of course, he could start a war.

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Brian Beutler is a senior editor at The New Republic. He hosts Primary Concerns, a podcast about politics.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 12th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

From Trump’s first Press Conference: PEOTUS thinks the Presidency is a part-time job that entitles him to continue to manage the Trump Organization and the Trump Company. If he distances himself somewhat from his business interests this is just to decrease the perception that it looks bad. But what about the question of being beholden to Putin’s installed Washington Red House?

On the very simple level, as Salon published WSJ’s look at business aspects of the conundrum
of Trumps clear conflicts of interests – yesterday’s “First Press Conference” showed clearly that the most serious trigger of danger is his dependence on Putin’s good will. Yes, Trump is ready to acknowledge that Putin was responsible for the hacking of his opponent’s secrets, while being rude on camera in not allowing the CNN reporter to ask the pinpointing question – “Did you have contacts with Russians during the election period?”

The worst thing will turn out not the hacking of the Hillary Clinton and her staff’s e-mail accounts – but in effect the much juicier Trump e-mail accounts. It seems that Putin knew well, unsurprisingly, exactly what he was doing when getting very meager news from the Clinton and John Podesta’s mail, while mining the wast global business Trump information.
We suggest that while helping Trump be elected, Putin was stashing away the info to perform a future extortion game of a President Trump and his eventual ruling partners – which he obviously did not have their names – but clearly knew that they will come from the circle of Trump’s business partners – the future oligarchs of America.

Trying to get the large picture of the USA as projected by the unfolding events we start with a recollection of the way US Democracy is framed. We find there four Estates in this Democracy – The three supposedly independent institutions of the Presidency (the White House), The Legislative (the Congress) and the Judiciary (the Supreme Court). Then we have the Fourth Estate – The Media. Albeit, we are not naive to see the three independent institutions as truly independent – we know that all three are dependent on the same large business and Corporate interests. That is why the Media is so important. The role of the media is to insure that the three institutions stay honest. Not an easy task if the media is not allowed to operate freely – If those that own it fall also under the domination of those same large interests. We saw it during the elections how FOX, led by a Trump friendly billionaire was nothing more then an echo-chamber of Trump. This will not change meaningfully now after Trump won, but some of the others are still ready to do your job, but are now in danger of being thrown out from those very infrequent press conferences, that Trump has in mind. This may be the last blow to US democracy and in Trump’s treatment of the CNN correspondent last night is the beacon of the Trump intentions. Trump at minimum – promises to turn the historic White House into Washington’s Red House with Putin holding the reins of the Trump coffin carriage.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 6th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


SHOCKING OF THE UN-INITIATED? NOW IT IS OFFICIAL – PUTIN PERSONALLY WAS INVOLVED IN CREATING US ELECTION RESULTS. WAS THERE FURTHER COLLUSION WITH THE US RIGHT – IN THE PERSON OF THE HEAD OF THE FBI WHO CHOSE THE TIME WHEN THE PUTIN INTERFERENCE WOULD BEAR MOST FRUIT?

The US intelligence community concluded in a declassified report released Friday that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an “influence campaign” aimed at hurting Hillary Clinton and helping Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election.

The report was the first official, full and public accounting by the US intelligence community of its assessment of Russian hacking activities during the 2016 campaign.

“We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election. Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump,” the report said.

The campaign — which consisted of hacking Democratic groups and individuals, including Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, and releasing that information via third-party websites, including WikiLeaks — amounted to what the intelligence report called “a significant escalation” in longtime Russian efforts to undermine “the US-led liberal democratic order.”

Trump earlier Friday downplayed Russia’s role in the election after what he called a “constructive meeting” with top US intelligence officials.

Trump tried to defuse controversy over his criticism of the intelligence community and said he will appoint a team within 90 days to figure out ways to stop foreign hacking.

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National Security: Declassified report says Putin ‘ordered’ effort to undermine faith in U.S. election and help Trump.

By Greg Miller, The Washington Post, January 6 at 4:49 PM


Russia carried out a comprehensive cybercampaign to upend the U.S. presidential election, an operation that was ordered by Russian President Vladi­mir Putin and “aspired to help” elect Donald Trump by discrediting his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, U.S. intelligence agencies concluded in a report released Friday.

The report depicts Russian interference as unprecedented in scale, saying that Moscow’s assault represented “a significant escalation in directness, level of activity, and scope of effort” beyond previous election-related espionage.


The campaign was ordered by Putin himself and initially sought primarily to undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process, “denigrate Secretary Clinton” and harm her electoral prospects. But as the campaign proceeded, Russia “developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump” and repeatedly sought to elevate him by “discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him.”


The document represents an extraordinarily direct and detailed account of a long-standing U.S. adversary’s multi-pronged intervention in a fundamental pillar of American democracy.

Trump emerged from a briefing on the report by the nation’s top intelligence officials Friday seeming to acknowledge for the first time at least the possibility that Russia was behind election-related hacks. But he offered no indication that he was prepared to accept U.S. spy agencies’ conclusion that Moscow sought to help him win.

Report on Russian hacking released after Trump briefing Play Video3:04
U.S. intelligence agencies released a declassified version of their report on Russian intervention in the 2016 U.S. election on Jan. 6, just hours after President-elect Donald Trump was briefed by American officials. (Peter Stevenson/The Washington Post)
Instead, Trump said in a statement issued just minutes after the high-level meeting ended that whatever hacking had occurred, “there was absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election.”

Trump’s statement seemed designed to create the impression that this was the view of the intelligence officials, including Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. and CIA Director John Brennan, who had met with him.

But weighing whether Russia’s intervention altered the outcome of the 2016 race was beyond the scope of the review that the nation’s spy agencies completed this week. And Clapper testified in a Senate hearing Thursday that U.S. intelligence services “have no way of gauging the impact .?.?. it had on the choices the electorate made. There’s no way for us to gauge that.”

Trump’s statement came after his first face-to-face encounter with the leaders of intelligence agencies whose work he has repeatedly disparaged. Others who took part in the meeting included FBI Director James B. Comey and National Security Agency chief Adm. Mike Rogers.

All four of the spy chiefs have endorsed a classified report that was briefed to Trump and circulated in Washington this week that concludes that Russia used a combination of aggressive hacking, propaganda and “fake news” to disrupt the 2016 U.S. presidential race.

Trump appeared to acknowledge that hacking of Democratic and Republican computer networks had occurred, but was apparently not prepared to accept the consensus view of U.S. spy services that Russia sought to help him win.

“I had a constructive meeting and conversation with the leaders of the intelligence community,” Trump said. He acknowledged that “Russia, China, other countries, outside groups and people are consistently trying to break through the cyber-infrastructure of our government institutions, businesses and organizations including the Democrat National Committee.”

U.S. intelligence captured Russian officials’ communications celebrating Trump’s victory.
(a Video 2:42 minutes presented}

The Post’s Adam Entous reports that U.S. intelligence agencies intercepted electronic communications, known as “signals intelligence,” in which top Russian officials celebrated the outcome of the U.S. election. (Bastien Inzaurralde/The Washington Post)

The session was seen as an early indicator of whether Trump could reach some sort of accord with U.S. intelligence agencies or is determined to extend his increasingly bitter feud with America’s spies and analysts into his first term.

In an interview with the New York Times before Friday’s briefing, Trump said the focus on Russian hacking “is a political witch hunt.”

In Thursday’s testimony, Clapper appeared to take aim at Trump and the stream of social-media insults he has targeted at the intelligence community over the Russia issue.

“There is an important distinction here between healthy skepticism, which policymakers, to include policymaker number one, should always have for intelligence,” Clapper said. “But I think there is a difference between skepticism and disparagement.”

The meeting, which was requested by Trump, comes on the heels of a series of revelations about Russia’s role and motivations in last year’s campaign.

The Post reported in December that the CIA and other agencies had concluded that Russia sought not only to disrupt the election and sow doubt about the legitimacy of American democratic institutions but also to help Trump win.

U.S. intelligence agencies based that determination on an array of interlocking intelligence pieces, including the identification of known “actors” with ties to Russian intelligence services who helped deliver troves of stolen Democratic email files to the WikiLeaks website.

U.S. spy agencies also monitored communications in Moscow after the election that showed that senior officials in the Russian government, including those believed to have had knowledge of the hacking campaign, celebrated Trump’s win and congratulated one another on the outcome.

Trump has rejected intelligence agencies’ unanimous conclusions about Russia, saying it could just as easily have been China or “some guy” in New Jersey.

Trump has seemed to court conflict with U.S. intelligence agencies on several fronts. During his campaign, he vowed to order the CIA to return to the use of waterboarding and other brutal interrogation measures widely condemned as torture. Since his surprise victory, Trump has skipped the majority of the daily intelligence briefings made available to him, saying that he has no need for sessions that he finds repetitive.

But the president-elect softened his message on Thursday, saying on Twitter that he is a “big fan” of intelligence, although, as has been his practice, he set off the word “intelligence” in quotes.

============================

The United States’ most senior intelligence officials briefed Trump on Russian hacking during the election campaign just hours after the President-elect doubled down on his dismissal of the threat as an artificial and politically driven controversy, calling it a “witch hunt.”

Trump also tried to defuse controversy over his criticism of the intelligence community and continued refusal to accept Moscow’s actions, calling the Friday meeting “constructive” and offering praise for the senior intel officials. He said he will appoint a team within 90 days to figure out ways to stop foreign hacking.

Trump’s meeting with the intel officials took around 90 minutes at Trump Tower. A Trump spokeswoman said the officials who gave the briefing were Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, CIA Director John Brennan and FBI Director James Comey.


Officials: Hackers aggressively targeting US 02:26

A senior TRUMP transition official described the meeting between Trump and intelligence community officials as “cordial,” not contentious. Trump asked questions and made clear his admiration for intelligence community employees, the official added.

Based on the presentation Friday, which included new information, the TRUMP official insisted that it’s the transition’s view that the hacking was intended to harm Hillary Clinton more than to help Trump. This official pointed to what they were told at the meeting, that the cyberactivity began in late 2015 and early 2016, before it was clear Trump would be the nominee. So, the official asked, how could the hacking be a pro-Trump operation if it began so early on. “This was more an effort to discredit her than anything else,” the Trump official said.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 6th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


China Aims to Spend at Least $360 Billion on Renewable Energy by 2020

By MICHAEL FORSYTHE, January 5, 2017, The New York Times

China intends to spend more than $360 billion through 2020 on renewable power sources like solar and wind, the government’s energy agency said on Thursday.

The country’s National Energy Administration laid out a plan to dominate one of the world’s fastest-growing industries, just at a time when the United States is set to take the opposite tack as Donald J. Trump, a climate-change doubter, prepares to assume the presidency.

The agency said in a statement that China would create more than 13 million jobs in the renewable energy sector by 2020, curb the growth of greenhouse gasses that contribute to global warming and reduce the amount of soot that in recent days has blanketed Beijing and other Chinese cities in a noxious cloud of smog.

China surpassed the United States a decade ago as the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gasses, and now discharges about twice as much. For years, its oil and coal industries prospered under powerful political patrons and the growth-above-anything mantra of the ruling Communist Party.

The result was choking pollution and the growing recognition that China, many of whose biggest cities are on the coast, will be threatened by rising sea levels.

But even disregarding the threat of climate change, China’s announcement was a bold claim on leadership in the renewable energy industry, where Chinese companies, buoyed by a huge domestic market, are already among the world’s dominant players. Thanks in part to Chinese manufacturing, costs in the wind and solar industries are plummeting, making them increasingly competitive with power generation from fossil fuels like coal and natural gas.

Sam Geall, executive editor of Chinadialogue, an English- and Chinese-language website that focuses on the environment, said that the United States, by moving away from a focus on reducing carbon emissions, risked losing out to China in the race to lead the industry.

Mr. Trump has in the past called the theory of human-cased global warming a hoax and picked a fierce opponent of President Obama’s rules to reduce carbon emissions, Scott Pruitt, the Oklahoma attorney general, to lead the Environmental Protection Agency.

The investment commitment made by the Chinese, combined with Mr. Trump’s moves, means jobs that would have been created in the United States may instead go to Chinese workers.

Even the headline-grabbing numbers on total investment and job creation may understate what is already happening on the ground in China. Greenpeace estimates that China installed an average of more than one wind turbine every hour of every day in 2015, and covered the equivalent of one soccer field every hour with solar panels.

China may meet its 2020 goals for solar installation by 2018, said Lauri Myllyvirta, a research analyst at Greenpeace, who is based in Beijing.

But despite these impressive numbers, China’s push to clean its air and reduce its greenhouse gasses faces political pressure from the politically powerful coal industry.

Mr. Geall and Mr. Myllyvirta both said that Thursday’s announcement was missing any language on curtailment, or the amount of electricity generated by wind and solar that never finds its way to the country’s power grid. In China, wind power curtailment was 19 percent in the first nine months 2016, Mr. Myllyvirta said, many times higher than in the United States, where curtailment levels are often negligible.

The main reason for curtailment, he said, is that China is plagued by overcapacity in electricity generation and operators of China’s grid often favor electricity generated from coal.

In recent years the country has also been building coal-fired power plants at a furious pace, although that has recently slowed along with China’s economy. Another omission from Thursday’s announcements, Mr. Myllyvirta said, was the absence of any specific target to reduce coal consumption.

But both Mr. Geall and Mr. Myllyvirta said Thursday’s announcement set the stage for still more power generation from renewable energy and a gradual shift away from coal.

“My experience with China is when a numeric target gets written down, it gets implemented,” Mr. Myllyvirta said. “It doesn’t always get implemented in the way you like, but it does get implemented.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 5th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


If Trump’s Nominee Scott Pruitt Is Confirmed, ‘EPA Would Stand for Every Polluter’s Ally’

By Elliott Negin, EcoWatch
04 January 17


Nominating Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to run the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) gives lie to Donald Trump’s claim that he is serious about protecting the public from pollution. While the president-elect has waffled on climate change, he has been unequivocal about toxics.

“Clean air is vitally important,” Trump declared during a Nov. 22, 2016 interview with The New York Times. “Clean water,” he added, “crystal clean water is vitally important. Safety is vitally important.” And when he announced Pruitt’s nomination in early December, Trump vowed that the attorney general would “restore the EPA’s essential mission of keeping our air and water clean and safe.”

Putting aside the fact that the EPA has not forsaken that mission, Pruitt’s track record indicates that he would do the exact opposite. Under Pruitt, the acronym EPA would stand for Every Polluter’s Ally.

Follow EcoWatch @EcoWatch
Trump Picks Scott Pruitt, ‘Puppet of the Fossil Fuel Industry,’ to Head EPA ow.ly/sGrC306X0Cr @GreenpeaceAustP @Green_Europe 1:40 PM – 9 Dec 2016

Photo published for Trump Picks ‘Puppet of the Fossil Fuel Industry’ to Head EPA
Trump Picks ‘Puppet of the Fossil Fuel Industry’ to Head EPA
Donald Trump has appointed Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The conservative Republican has close ties to the fossil fuel industry and…  ecowatch.com 33 33 Retweets 17 17 likes

Since he took office as Oklahoma’s attorney general in 2010, Pruitt has repeatedly sued the EPA to block key safeguards limiting power plant pollution, most notably the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, which limits sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides and the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS), which curb mercury, arsenic, cyanide and other emissions.

Sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides are primary ingredients of soot and smog pollution, which cause a number of respiratory problems, including bronchitis and aggravated asthma, as well as cardiovascular disease and premature death. Mercury and other toxic pollutants covered by MATS have been linked to heart disease, neurological damage, birth defects, asthma attacks and premature death. Some 25 million Americans suffer from asthma, alone. That’s one out of every 12 people.

The potential benefits of the Cross-State Rule and MATS are considerable. Taken together, they are projected to prevent 18,000 to 46,000 premature deaths across the country and save $150 billion to $380 billion in health care costs annually. In Pruitt’s home state, the two regulations would avert as many as 720 premature deaths and save as much as $5.9 billion per year.

Pruitt also has sued the EPA to prevent the agency from implementing a rule that would reduce the amount of ground-level ozone or smog, which the American Lung Association says is the most widespread pollutant nationwide and one of the most dangerous. Produced when sunlight heats nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds and carbon monoxide from power plants, industrial facilities and automobiles, ozone pollution has been linked to respiratory problems, cardiovascular disease and premature death. It is particularly harmful for the most vulnerable, including children, the elderly, and people already suffering from asthma or another respiratory disease.

No matter. In October 2015, Pruitt joined with four other states to challenge the new ozone rule in court, despite the fact that earlier that month, the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality said the state could meet the new EPA limits.

Pruitt also has targeted clean water safeguards. In July 2015, he sued the EPA over the Clean Water Rule, which the agency and the Army Corps of Engineers had just issued to clarify the scope of the Clean Water Act. The rule was in response to two Supreme Court decisions—in 2001and in 2006—that called into question whether the federal government had the authority to protect smaller streams, wetlands and other water bodies that flow into drinking water supplies. From a scientific perspective, it’s a no-brainer. As EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy explained in a statement: “For the lakes and rivers we love to be clean, the streams and wetlands that feed them have to be clean, too.”

Pruitt doesn’t see it that way. In a March 2015 column he co-wrote with Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul for The Hill, Pruitt called the Clean Water Rule “the greatest blow to private property rights the modern era has seen.” Pruitt and Rand maintain that states should be responsible for protecting the environment within their respective borders, not the federal government. Never mind that air and water pollution do not honor political boundaries and state legislatures are all too often dominated by corporate interests.

Besides Pruitt’s disdain for air and water safeguards, he is no fan of federal efforts to address climate change, which he falsely insists is an open scientific question. Pruitt, who has received generous contributions from fossil fuel interests, is not only party to a pending lawsuit against the EPA over its Clean Power Plan to curb electricity sector carbon emissions, he also attempted unsuccessfully to overturn the agency’s science-based “endangerment finding” that greenhouse gases threaten public health and welfare, a cornerstone of the EPA’s climate work.

Public health advocates are rightly horrified at the prospect of Pruitt running the EPA. The response from Ken Kimmell, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists, was typical.

“The EPA plays an absolutely vital role in enforcing long-standing policies that protect the health and safety of Americans, based on the best available science,” Kimmell said in a press statement. “Pruitt has a clear record of hostility to the EPA’s mission, and he is a completely inappropriate choice to lead it. … It’s this simple: If senators take seriously their job of protecting the public, they must vote no on Pruitt.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 4th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

California is destined to be the anti-Trump like Texas was the anti-Obama.
Take notice – California is the Fifth largest economy in the World and its legislature does not want Trump to mess it up.

California braces for a Trump presidency by tapping former U.S. Atty. General Eric Holder for legal counsel.

By Melanie MasonMelanie Mason, Contact Reporter based in Sacramento, The Los Angeles Times.

Bracing for an adversarial relationship with President-elect Donald Trump, the California Legislature has selected former U.S. Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. to serve as outside counsel to advise the state’s legal strategy against the incoming administration.


The unusual arrangement will give Holder, leading a team of attorneys from the firm Covington & Burling, a broad portfolio covering potential conflicts between California and the federal government.

“He will be our lead litigator, and he will have a legal team of expert lawyers on the issues of climate change, women and civil rights, the environment, immigration, voting rights — to name just a few,” Senate leader Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) said in an interview.

Such a task typically falls to the state attorney general. On Tuesday, Gov. Jerry Brown formally nominated Democratic Rep. Xavier Becerra to replace former Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris, who now serves in the U.S. Senate. Becerra, whose nomination hearings in the Legislature begin next week, is expected to be easily confirmed.

But De León and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon began contemplating hiring outside legal counsel for the Legislature almost immediately after Trump’s election, in hopes of protecting existing state policies that are at odds with the president-elect’s stated positions.

“While we don’t yet know the harmful proposals the next administration will put forward, thanks to Donald Trump’s campaign, cabinet appointments and Twitter feed, we do have an idea of what we will be dealing with,” Rendon said in a statement.

“The Covington team will be an important resource as we work with the governor and the attorney general to protect Californians,” he added.

The two legislative leaders have taken an unabashedly combative posture against Trump.
Rendon, in remarks last month at a swearing-in ceremony for lawmakers, described the incoming administration as a “major existential threat,” and asserted “Californians do not need healing. We need to fight.”

De León said the additional counsel would offer “more legal firepower” that would complement and bring additional heft to the state attorney general’s efforts.

“Hiring the former attorney general — the nation’s top lawyer — it shows that we’re very serious in protecting the values of the people of California against any attempt to undermine the policies that has made us the fifth-largest economy in the world,” De León said.

Bringing on outside counsel is not unprecedented for the Legislature. The state Senate hired special counsel for a select committee investigating price manipulation in the wholesale energy market by Enron in the early 2000s. The Senate also sought outside counsel to sort through the federal investigation of former Democratic state Sen. Ron Calderon, who later pleaded guilty to corruption charges.


Updates from Sacramento:

But it is far more unorthodox for both houses to join together in retaining counsel in a preemptive bid to prepare for as-yet-unknown litigation and policy-making at the federal level. Much of the arrangement remains murky, including how Holder’s efforts will differ from or align with Becerra’s.

Also unclear: the price tag. Aides to legislative leaders declined to specify how much Covington & Burling’s services will cost the state, citing still-unfinished contracts, but said the payment would come out of both chambers’ operating budgets and would not require additional state funds.

Holder, who was a partner at Covington from 2001 until 2009 before rejoining the firm in 2015, will direct the efforts from the firm’s Washington, D.C., office. The firm, which has a long-established presence in the nation’s capital, has in recent years expanded its footprint in California. Covington’s Los Angeles office, which will play a major role in working with the Legislature, was launched in part by former federal prosecutor Dan Shallman, whose brother, John Shallman, is a prominent Democratic strategist whose clients include De León.

“I am honored that the legislature chose Covington to serve as its legal advisor as it considers how to respond to potential changes in federal law that could impact California’s residents and policy priorities,” Holder said in a statement provided by De León’s office.

“I am confident that our expertise across a wide array of federal legal and regulatory issues will be a great resource for the legislature.”

Holder, a close friend of President Obama, left the Justice Department in 2015. As one of the most liberal figures in the Obama administration, his tenure was defined by a focus on civil rights and criminal justice reform and was marked by a tumultuous relationship with Congress and scandal stemming from the failed gun-trafficking operation known as Fast and Furious.

Representing California lawmakers against Trump won’t be Holder’s sole foray into politics in the coming years. He is also overseeing a Democratic campaign focused on redistricting, the process of redrawing political maps that, in recent years, has tilted state legislative and congressional landscapes in the Republicans’ favor.

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 melanie.mason at latimes.com

Follow @melmason on Twitter for the latest on California politics.

ALSO

California is itching to take on Trump. Here are the prominent figures leading the charge.
Texas was Obama’s chief antagonist. In Trump’s America, California is eager for the part.

California’s new legislative session begins with a message: We’re ready to fight Trump.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 3rd, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Will António Guterres be the UN’s best ever secretary general? Asks the Guardian.

Cultured and consensual, the Portuguese politician has had the perfect preparation for the United Nations’ top job says the Guardian.

Sunday 1 January 2017 07.00 GMT Last modified on Sunday 1 January 2017 22.00 GMT

When António Guterres resigned halfway through his second term as Portuguese prime minister in 2002 because his minority government was floundering, he did something unusual for a man who had seen the highest reaches of power.

Several times a week, he went to slum neighborhoods on the edge of Lisbon to give free maths tuition to children.

“He never allowed a journalist to go with him or let himself be filmed or photographed, and he never let journalists talk to any of his students,” said Ricardo Costa, editor-in-chief of the Portuguese SIC News, who covered Guterres’s political career. The former prime minister told his surprised students that what he was doing was personal and not for show.

The Portuguese socialist, who becomes the next UN secretary general on Sunday, is an intellectual who grew up under Portugal’s dictatorship and came of age with the 1974 revolution that ended 48 years of authoritarian rule.

Crucial to understanding Guterres, 67, is his Christian faith: his progressive Catholicism always informed his brand of social democratic politics.

In the heady days of Portugal’s revolution, it was rare to be a practising Catholic in a new Socialist party where many members had Marxist backgrounds. But Guterres, a star engineering student who grew a moustache in honour of the Chilean left’s Salvador Allende, would eventually become a modernising leader, arguing that his mission was social justice and equality.

On the Portuguese left, faith was a delicate issue that required discretion. Under Guterres, the country held a referendum in 1998 on a proposal to liberalise the strict abortion laws. Socialist MPs had a free vote and, as prime minister, Guterres chose not to officially campaign. But it was publicly known that he opposed changing the law, which irked many in his party. The no vote against liberalising the abortion law narrowly won, but turnout was so low that the result was not binding. Abortion laws were finally relaxed in 2007 after a second referendum.

Born in Lisbon, Guterres spent stretches of his childhood with relatives in the countryside, where he saw the poverty of rural life under the dictatorship, and later volunteered with Catholic student groups on social projects in the capital.

In 1976, the young engineering lecturer was elected a Socialist MP in Portugal’s first democratic vote since the revolution. In parliament, he was a fearsome orator. Such was his talent for verbally destroying political opponents, he became known as “the talking pickaxe”.

Guterres became prime minister in 1995. His campaign slogan was “heart and reason”, a cry for more humanism and social politics. Three years earlier he had taken over the Socialist party and modernised it, although he remained to the left of contemporaries such as Tony Blair. For years he led the Socialist International international grouping of leftwing parties.

With Portugal’s rapid economic growth and nearly full employment, Guterres was able to set up a guaranteed minimum income and nursery schooling for all. But he had failed to win an absolute majority and was condemned to preside over a tricky minority government. He had to rely on his skill for consensus, always having to negotiate with the opposition parties if he wanted to get anything passed – something he later argued was perfect training for running the UN.

“He was a skillful person – very smart, very quick to understand the other point of view and very focused on having solutions – that’s why it worked,” said António Vitorino, Guterres’s deputy prime minister and defence minister.

Guterres was furiously hardworking. But behind this was a backdrop of family tragedy. His wife, Luísa Guimarães e Melo, a psychiatrist with whom he had two children, had been critically ill for most of his time in government and was undergoing treatment at a London hospital.

“It was one of the hardest moments of his political life,” Vitorino said. “Every Friday morning, he took a plane to London, spent the weekend there in a very desperate situation and then on Monday morning he was back at work. I was his deputy prime minister, I was amazed. I could never have done what he was doing.”

In 1998, Guterres’s wife died. The following year, he threw himself into the general elections. He had hoped to win an outright majority but the Socialists ended up one MP short and began a second minority government. This time, a slowdown in the economy made things harder.

Guterres, privately growing disillusioned with internal party politics, turned increasingly to his interest in international diplomacy. He had already won praise for his role in resolving the crisis in Timor-Leste, a former Portuguese colony, which had erupted into violence in 1999 after a referendum vote in favour of independence from Indonesia. Guterres led diplomatic efforts to convince the UN to intervene to restore peace.

In 2000, when Portugal took the rotating presidency of the European Union, its success was attributed to Guterres’s ability to get big leaders to agree and smaller leaders to be heard.

António Guterres accepts roses from a supporter in Lisbon
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António Guterres is cheered after his party won Portugal’s general elections in October 1999. Photograph: Armando Franca/AP
“He did something very original: he looked at what every country wanted and set up an agenda that could be interesting for everyone,” said Francisco Seixas da Costa, a Portuguese diplomat who served as Guterres’s European affairs secretary. “Small countries disappear in the decision-making process so we tried to listen to their interests.”

Guterres managed to talk down powerful leaders at loggerheads. “At the European council, I remember a conflict between Jacques Chirac and Helmut Kohl over one issue,” Seixas da Costa said. “Guterres asked for the floor. I was sitting next to him, I was afraid it might be naive. But he took the floor and made a proposal that covered both their interests, and it was a success. It worked. He had a fantastic capacity to moderate and create links and bridges.”

In 2002, halfway through his second term as prime minister, Guterres abruptly resigned after the Socialists suffered a drubbing in local elections. He famously said he wanted to avoid the country falling into a “political swamp” and that he had discovered “politics has its limits”.

At the time he was unpopular, criticised for too much compromise and too much dialogue. But over the years since his departure, polls showed he was increasingly liked and seen as fair, serious and honest – a possible contender for Portuguese president, although he never wanted to return to national politics, preferring, he said, to make a difference on the world stage.

His decade serving as UN high commissioner for refugees (UNHCR) from 2005 to 2015 was seen in Portugal as an obvious fit for his personality: socially engaged but seeking common ground.

Guterres – who speaks Portuguese, English, French and Spanish and is now remarried to Catarina Vaz Pinto, who works at Lisbon city hall – was known in political circles for enthusiastic, cultured conversations on everything from ancient Greece to Middle Eastern culture, opera to geography.

Whenever he had free time during visits to Washington as UNHCR chief, he would get the organisation’s regional representative, Michel Gabaudan, to take him to Politics & Prose or another of the city’s bookshops.

“He’s an avid reader of history, and his pleasure was, if we had an hour, to go to a bookshop, so we would have access to books in English that weren’t easy to get in Geneva,” said Gabaudan, now president of Refugees International. “I’m sure this immense knowledge of past and ancient history did inform his political judgment.”

Guterres also took a broad approach to the UNHCR’s responsibilities. The organisation grew dramatically under his management, and not just because the number of the world’s refugees soared in the 21st century. He broadened the categories of people the UNHCR would seek to protect, including internally displaced people and migrants forced from their homes by natural disasters and climate change. He preferred the all-encompassing phrase “people on the move”.

He managed to persuade donors to fund the expansion by retaining their confidence that the money was well spent, and to do that he cut overheads.

Guterres, then UN high commissioner for refugees, visits Ikafe camp for Sudanese refugees in northern Uganda.
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Guterres, then UN high commissioner for refugees, visits Ikafe camp for Sudanese refugees in northern Uganda in June 2005. Photograph: Radu Sigheti/Reuters
“Like all UN organisations, as the organisation had grown up, it had become a little bit top-heavy and one of his first actions was really to slim down headquarters fairly substantially. He sent people back to the field and he put some of the services in much cheaper places than Geneva,” Gabaudan said.

“He never thought the details of finance were just for the technicians. I saw him looking at spreadsheets faster than his financial officer, spotting the line or column where we had a problem. So he was really as much hands-on about how the organisation worked as he was the top political figure and spokesman for refugees.”

When Justin Forsyth was chief executive of Save the Children UK, he travelled with Guterres to refugee camps in Lebanon, and recalled Guterres meeting a group of children. “The thing that struck me was him cross-legged on the floor of a tent talking to children. He really listens and he asks questions and he’s very moved by what he hears. He gets his hands dirty,” said Forsyth, the new deputy executive director of Unicef, the UN children’s charity.

Guterres’s tenure as high commissioner has attracted some criticism. Some former officials said he should have spoken out more strongly in defence of refugee rights enshrined in the 1951 refugee convention. “His record is very mixed, particularly on protection. His tenure was a rough time for the protection of refugees,” a former senior UN official said. He pointed to Thailand forcibly repatriating ethnic Uighurs to China despite the risk they would face persecution.

He argued that a tripartite agreement the UNHCR made with Kenya and Somalia on the voluntary return of Somali refugees had paved the way for the reported forced repatriations now under way in Kenya aimed at emptying its biggest camp, at Dadaab.

The former official said the EU’s deal with Turkey to repatriate refugees, also widely seen as a violation of basic principles of refugee protection, was largely negotiated while Guterres was at the helm, even if it was only signed in March this year, three months after he left.

“His style is to make general statements on the issue but not to directly challenge governments on their actions,” the former official said. “It raises concerns on what he would be like as secretary general.”

Jeff Crisp, who was head of UNHCR policy development and evaluation under Guterres and is now a research associate at the University of Oxford’s Refugee Studies Centre, said not all the criticisms could be pointed at the secretary general designate.

He said the UNHCR did push back against infringements of refugee rights by European states and had been strongly critical of the EU-Turkey deal. And he argued the tendency to address abuses by authoritarian states by behind-the-scenes persuasion had historically been the “institutional approach” taken by the UNHCR, before and after Guterres.

“I think you have to understand that UNHCR’s public criticism of states is very carefully calibrated and in general the more liberal a state is, the more publicly the UNHCR will criticise it,” Crisp said.

Adaptable, consensual, affable, intellectual, Guterres is perhaps better qualified than any of his nine predecessors for the world’s most demanding job. But one of his deftest skills he learned not from the hurly burly of Portuguese politics, nor from the harrowing years at the UNHCR, but from his first wife.

At a Guardian event last June in which he debated with rivals for the secretary general job, he said her psychoanalytical insights were highly valuable. “She taught me something that was extremely useful for all my political activities. When two people are together, they are not two but six. What each one is, what each one thinks he or she is and what each one thinks the other is,” he said.


“And what is true for people is also true for countries and organisations. One of the roles of the secretary general when dealing with the different key actors in each scenario is to bring these six into two. That the misunderstandings disappear and the false perceptions disappear. Perceptions are essential in politics.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 3rd, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

BREAKING — THE DANGLING FRUIT IN FRONT OF TRUMP: Ford is canceling plans to build a new manufacturing plant in Mexico and instead is investing $700 million in Michigan. The company’s CEO Mark Fields told CNN that the move is a “vote of confidence” in President-elect Donald Trump’s pledge to create a pro-business environment. Fields emphasized, however, that he did not negotiate any special deal with Trump. “We didn’t cut a deal with Trump,” he said. “We did it for our business.” bit.ly/2j4UZZ4

U.N.’s Israel vote: The House will vote Thursday on a resolution disapproving of the United Nations Security Council resolution criticizing Israel’s settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Many Democrats could join with Republicans to pass the measure as a means of demonstrating their support for Israel, even if their votes would put them at odds with President Obama. The U.S. refused to veto the Security Council resolution and instead abstained from the vote.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 3rd, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

ISRAELI-INNOVATION By REUTERS \ 01/03/2017 14:05

Israeli firm creates autonomous aircraft that goes where no helicopter dares.
New Israeli tech sees machines leading the blind.


An autonomous aircraft the size of a car could revolutionize aviation by flying in areas currently inaccessible to aircraft, according to its Israeli developers.

After 15 years of development, an Israeli tech firm are optimistic of finally get their one-and-a-half tonne people-carrying drone off the ground and into the market.

The Cormorant aircraft, billed as a flying car capable of transporting 500kg of weight and traveling at 115 mph, completed its first automated solo flight in November, taking off, flying and landing by itself.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 31st, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


We’re Living Through the First World Cyberwar – but Just Haven’t Called It That

By Martin Belam, Guardian UK
30 December 16

Nation states have been attacking each other electronically for a decade or more. Historians will eventually give it a name and a start and end date
he job of the historian is often to pull together broad themes and trends, then give them a snappy title that people will easily recognise and understand. That’s how we end up with labels like “The decline and fall of the Roman Empire” or “The Rise of Hitler and the Third Reich”.

As someone who studied history, I’ve had this lingering curiosity about how historians of the future will view our times. It is easy to imagine textbooks in a hundred years with chapters that start with Reagan and Thatcher and end with the global financial crisis and called something like The Western Neoliberal Consensus 1979-2008.

But contemporaries seldom refer to events with these names, or can see the sharp lines that the future will draw. It wouldn’t have seemed obvious with the capture of Calais in 1347 that this decisive siege was just one early development in a dynastic struggle that would come to be known as the hundred years war.

This always makes me wonder what broader patterns we might be missing in our own lives, and I’ve come round to thinking that we might already be living through the first world cyberwar – it’s just that we haven’t acknowledged or named it yet.

What might a timeline of that war look like to a future historian? Well, 2007 seems like a good bet as a starting point – with a concerted series of cyber-attacks on Estonia. These were particularly effective, because the Baltic state has pushed so much of its public life online. The attacks were generally regarded to have come from Russia with state approval. That’s just one reason why I suspect cyberwarfare will provoke endless debates among historians.

Cyberwarfare is clearly a front where nation states will try to gain advantage over each other and make plans for attack and defence. But, like espionage, it is a murky world where it is hard for outsiders to get an exact grasp on what is being done. Nation states seldom openly claim credit for hacking.

In 2008 there were events that a historian might weave into a narrative of a global cyberwar, when several underwater internet cables were cut during the course of the year, interrupting internet communication and particularly affecting the Middle East. Some have argued these were accidents caused by ships dragging their anchors, but they mostly remain unsolved mysteries, with the suspicion that only state actors would have the required equipment and knowledge to target the cables. Of course, it might have just been sharks.

In 2010 the Stuxnet worm was used to attack Iran’s nuclear program. Carried on Microsoft Windows machines, and specifically targeting software from Siemens, Stuxnet was reported to have successfully damaged the fast-spinning centrifuges used to develop nuclear material in Iran. Analysts at the time thought the computer virus so sophisticated that it must have been developed with state support – with fingers frequently pointed at the US and/or the Israelis.

Another event from 2010, the WikiLeaks American embassy cables release, which the Guardian participated in the publication of, would be irresistible for a historian to refer to in this context. It is also one of the things that makes the first world cyberwar different from conventional warfare – the mix of nation states being involved with pressure groups, whistleblowers and hackers. As well as the state apparatus, a history of this period of electronic warfare would have to name Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden, Anonymous and the Syrian Electronic Army as key players.

We are definitely living through something global in scope. North Korea has been suspected of hacking as a way to achieve diplomatic goals. The FBI publicly accused it of hacking Sony Pictures in 2014, exposing confidential company information. It was a hack of a Japanese company, targeted by an Asian state, with the aim of pressuring the US arm of the company over a movie.

Along the way there have been other equally odd quirks of war – the infected USB keys distributed at a US military base in 2008, or the curious laptop theft at a facility in Scotland that had recently received an official Chinese delegation.

The one that historians will be unable to ignore though is the 2016 US election campaign being influenced by alleged hacked and leaked emails – and the open speculation there was an attempt to hack into election counting machines by a foreign power. It might be unprecedented, but it isn’t going to go away. Yesterday Obama announced retaliation from the US and Germany is already braced for interference in its 2017 elections.

What reason is there to suppose that these events might eventually be grouped together as a single world cyberwar by historians? Well, for me, it is the idea that hostilities might formally come to an end.

You can envisage a scenario where Russia, China and the US can see a mutual benefit in de-escalating cyber-attacks between the three of them, and also begin to collectively worry about cyberwarfare capabilities being developed in a range of smaller nation states. Cue a UN summit about cyberwarfare, and the development of some code of conduct, or an anti-cyberwarfare treaty that provides historians with a neat endpoint.

It isn’t, of course, that nation states would stop electronic surveillance or building up hacking capabilities, but as with most wars that don’t deliver a decisive victory, eventually they become too expensive and too disruptive to maintain.

It is important to remember that the internet originally came from defence research, designed to provide communications capabilities in the event of a nuclear attack. It wouldn’t surprise me if in a hundred years it is the military purpose that historians mainly remember it for, and that we are living through the first time it is being used in anger.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 27th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Trump and Putin meeting to follow on the G.W. Bush and Putin meeting of June 2001 in Slovenia. Trump’s Appointed House Members will already have softened Trump to the point of being the pushover he is prepared to be.

By Dana Milbank Opinion writer December 27 at 12:32 PM

“Spare us the kissy-face.”

It was June 2001 and I was in an Alpine hamlet in Slovenia, where President George W. Bush had just met Vladimir Putin for the first time. I and others were struck by Bush’s praise for the Russian leader as “trustworthy.” Said Bush: “I was able to get a sense of his soul.”

But back in Washington, my editor had no interest in such talk. He rewrote my lede with other news — a tidbit about missile defense — and he moved the “kissy-face” stuff about Putin’s soul down to Paragraph 18.

In retrospect, that moment in Slovenia defined the Russia relationship for years to come. Putin had seduced Bush, who only slowly came to understand he had misjudged this adversary’s soul. Putin opposed Bush in Iraq and was unhelpful with Iran. He shut down independent television, sent business leaders who criticized him into exile and prison, ousted democratic parties from government, canceled the election of governors and invaded Georgia.

The kissy-face happened all over again when President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tried to “reset” relations. Russia responded by working against the United States in Syria, sheltering Edward Snowden, invading and occupying parts of Ukraine, and hacking and meddling in the U.S. election to defeat Clinton.

Now it’s Donald Trump’s turn for kissy-face, and the president-elect is practically groping the Russian dictator. After Putin gloated Friday that Democrats need to learn “to lose with dignity,”Trump tweeted Putin a sloppy kiss: “So true!” he said of Putin’s comments.

Trump also celebrated a letter he received from Putin calling for more collaboration between the two countries. “His thoughts are so correct,” Trump said.

Trump’s blush-inducing embrace of the strongman has included repeated praise of Putin’s leadership, deflected questions about Putin’s political killings and disparagement of U.S. intelligence for accusing Russia of election meddling.

In three weeks, Trump will assume the presidency, and we’ll learn what his embrace of Putin really means. Perhaps Trump is just a dupe and he’ll realize over time that Putin is no friend. The alternative, supported by Trump’s choice of Putin-friendly advisers Michael T. Flynn and Rex Tillerson, is that Trump really is pro-Putin and will grant the Russian dictator more latitude internationally and will emulate his autocratic tendencies at home.

The former would require us to endure some policy failures as Putin proved himself again to be an adversary. The latter would test the limits of our democratic institutions.

In either case, it would be useful for Americans to have at least a cursory sense of the man our new president proposes to embrace. Here’s a quick glimpse into Putin’s soul to get us started:

Opposition leader Boris Nemtsov was killed outside the Kremlin as he walked home one night last year. Putin’s regime blames Chechens, but Nemtsov’s is one of a dozen high-profile murders of opponents widely thought to have been sanctioned by Putin’s government.

Another Putin opponent, Alexander Litvinenko, was killed in London by polonium poisoning in 2006. The British government said Putin “probably” approved the hit. That same year, opposition journalist Anna Politkovskaya was shot and killed outside her apartment.

In 2009, lawyer Sergei Magnitsky died in prison after being denied medical care. Others working on his investigation of corrupt Russian politicians also died suspiciously.

Among the many business leaders imprisoned or ousted under Putin are Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who was head of the oil giant Yukos, and associate Platon Lebedev. The Russian human rights group Memorial says there are 102 people held in Russian prisons for their political or religious beliefs.

The Kremlin has provided funding and training for far-right nationalist parties in Europe, and it used its state media and an army of hackers and social-media trolls to spread disinformation in the United States, in continental Europe and in Britain before the Brexit vote. The goals: to weaken European unity and the NATO alliance and to keep Europe dependent on Russian energy.

Russia also used disinformation to destabilize the Ukrainian government as Russia annexed Crimea. In Syria, where Russia propped up the Assad regime with indiscriminate bombing in Aleppo and elsewhere, Britain, France and the United States have blamed Putin’s government for the mass slaughter of civilians.

An Amnesty International summary of Putin’s rule leaves no doubt about his totalitarian state: “Journalist Killed .?.?. Human Rights Lawyer Killed .?.?. Gay Rights Protesters Attacked .?.?. Exhibition Organizers Sentenced .?.?. Activists Beaten and Detained .?.?. Opposition Leader Held in Detention .?.?. Repressive Laws Enacted .?.?. Fines for ‘Promoting Homosexuality’ Imposed .?.?. President Putin Signs Law to Re-criminalize Defamation .?.?. USAID Expelled .?.?. Federal Treason and Espionage Act goes into effect .?.?. Prominent NGOs are Vandalized .?.?. Moscow Authorities Detain Protesters and Opposition Party Members.”

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